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Cameroon v Burkina Faso

Cameroon must ‘control emotions’ to dispatch Burkina Faso - Conceicao

1:07 am AEDT 10/1/22
Cameroon fans
The Indomitable Lions head coach believes mental strength will be key as the Africa Cup of Nations hosts look to win their tournament opener

Cameroon head coach Toni Conceicao has urged his players to control their emotions as the Indomitable Lions prepare to face Burkina Faso in their Africa Cup of Nations opener on Sunday.

The biennial African showpiece kicks off at the Stade d’Olembe this weekend with two Group A fixtures to begin the continental competition.

While the Indomitable Lions are favoured to defeat the Stallions and begin their campaign with maximum points, Conceicao has urged his players to keep their emotions in check in front of an expectant home crowd.

“I have complete confidence in my team,” he told GOAL before the match. “The team who are here are well prepared, but in the opening game there will be a lot of emotions.

“We have to control them in order to get a good result.”

Emotions have certainly got the better of Cameroon in the past, not least at the 2014 World Cup when a promising campaign ended in disaster amidst in-fighting and back-biting.

Despite being African giants, Cameroon are hosting the tournament for the first time in 50 years, with the Central African nation last being responsible for organising the competition in 1972.

On that occasion, opening the tournament at the Stade Omnisports in Yaounde, Cameroon began with a 2-1 victory over East Africans Kenya, and ultimately went on to top the group with five points.

“We have observed [Burkina Faso] and we know they’re strong,” Conceicao continued. “We are at home, we know the match will be 90 minutes, and we know their system.

“They’re a physically strong team, and we’ve already played against the,” he added. “So everything now depends on our behaviour, and depends on whether we can get ourselves to our best level.”

While Conceicao has faith in his players, he has acknowledged that being tournament hosts brings with it accompanying pressure.

“We have a heavy responsibility,” he concluded. "We organise the Afcon and we play at home, the people want us to win and obviously we can’t guarantee the victory before the match, but we can get the team to the best level to get the best result and the victory.

“We’re on a journey here, and I have confidence in my team. We’re prepared to face Burkina Faso and we’ll do the maximum to get the best result.”